Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

The Drinking Cat

Proof that all news — including science news — is local comes from the breathless announcement out of MIT, Princeton and Virginia Tech that scientists there have at last cracked the mystery of how a cat can drink milk without getting its chin and whiskers wet. Painstakingly analyzing high-speed videos, the investigators determined that while the predictably crude dog forms its tongue into a sort of ladle to scoop up liquids, the cat goes about things more daintily, curling its tongue down and under and touching the surface of the liquid lightly. When it laps — which it does at a speed of about four times per second — a complex interplay of gravity, inertia and fluid dynamics moves about 0.1 ml of liquid into its mouth per lap with no slosh or spillage. The practical applications for this? None at all. Does that matter? Not a bit.